NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb track and field program sets its sights on another successful season with the release of the program’s 2015 schedule.
"We have a great 2015 track schedule,” said Bill Taylor, director of track and field. “It provides tons of opportunities for everyone on our roster to develop. Although we have been improving rapidly as a program every year, we are really excited about this season and expect it to be a breakthrough season.
“Madi Talbert has qualified for the national finals two years in a row, and Gemikal Prude made it to the indoor and outdoor nationals last year. We are expecting the floodgates to open, so to speak, with many national preliminary and finals qualifiers this year. It's time to move into that top sphere as a whole program. This schedule provides a perfect opportunity to take the next step."
The track and field squads will open up the indoor season close to home at the Vanderbilt Commodore Indoor Jan. 16-17.
"This will be our first opportunity to race on Vandy's new indoor track,” Taylor said. “We've heard good things and are excited to start the season in Nashville on a nice track.”
The Bisons travel to Birmingham, Alabama on Jan. 25 for the Emory Invite followed by competition at the TSU Invite Feb. 1 and the SIU Invite in Carbondale, Illinois Feb. 6-7.
"We've been to these three meets previously,” Taylor said. “Emory will be our only meet at the CrossPlex in Birmingham this year. It's a great facility and will host the NCAA I National Championships next year.
“TSU is a solid local meet. It's kind of low-key, which is great. SIU is also a lower key meet. The sequence is really good and sets up the end of the indoor season.”
The squads will participate in split meets at the Hoosier Hills Invite in Bloomington, Indiana and the Husky Classic in Seattle, Washington Feb. 13-14.
"I think we've gone to the Hoosier Hills meet every year I've been at Lipscomb,” Taylor said. “It's a mid-range meet. Depending on the event, the competition ranges from good to great. We always perform really well there too. It's a 200-meter banked track and I don't know if it's the time of the season or the venue, but whatever it is, we always come away from that meet happy.
"We will be taking a number of our top distance runners out to Seattle for the Husky Classic. It's one of the best indoor meets in the nation for distance races, and it's a fast oversized indoor track. I'm from Seattle, so it's nice to get back there and race in a terrific meet."
The Atlantic Sun Indoor Championships will be held Feb. 28-March 1 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina while the NCAA I Indoor National Championships are set for March 13-14 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
"Our training is more focused on the outdoor season,” Taylor said. “We really train through the indoor season and the first part of outdoor track. We've done very well with indoor track, but we never taper or adjust our training plans to accommodate indoor."
The track and field program will kick off the outdoor season with a “Battle of the Boulevard” of its own. The squads will go toe-to-toe with Belmont March 14 for the first-ever Belmont vs. Lipscomb Dual.
"We've been working with Belmont for a few years now on creating a dual meet,” Taylor said. “I'm glad we were able to put it together this year. It will be a fun, low-key local opportunity.
“It adds to the traditional Lipscomb-Belmont rivalry, while just being a good chance to get the outdoor season started.”
The Bisons will begin to kick the outdoor season into full gear as they make stops at the Alabama Relays March 20-21 as well as the Vanderbilt Black and Gold and the Raleigh Relays March 27-28.
"It's been a few years since we've gone down to the Alabama Relays,” Taylor said. “It's a good solid meet and it looks like it has improved over the past few years.
"It's always fun to compete here in Nashville and the Vanderbilt Black and Gold meet is a good solid mid-level competition opportunity. We will take a significant number of our top distance runners out to Raleigh for a very good distance meet.”
The weekend of April 2-4 will be a busy one for the Bisons as the teams break apart for meets at the Big Blue Classic in Charleston, Illinois, the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida, San Francisco State Distance Carnival, and the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, California.
"Our very top distance runners will race at either Stanford or San Francisco State. Stanford is the best distance meet in the nation so many of the national preliminary qualifying times in the 5-K and 10-K come from this one meet.
“San Francisco is not quite as good, but provides solid races and a great opportunity for anyone that is on the bubble for Stanford and doesn't get in. The rest of the team will compete in the Big Blue Classic at EIU. It's a great opportunity for all events.”
The outdoor season continues for Lipscomb April 11-12 at the Boston Moon Classic on the campus of TSU and the Tennessee Relays in Knoxville.
"Last year was our first year at both of these meets,” Taylor said “They were great opportunities for a lot of athletes. It's always nice to compete in-state too. I think both of these meets are going to get stronger and stronger over the next few years.”
The group will trek to Princeton, New Jersey for the Larry Ellis Invite April 17-18 as well as the Austin Peay Invite in Clarksville.
“We've never been up to Princeton,” Taylor said. “It should be fun and a great opportunity. There were a number of national preliminary qualifying marks that came out of their meet last year.
Before wrapping up the regular outdoor season at the Georgia Invite May 9, the Purple and Gold set out for the Tennessee Challenge in Knoxville on May 2 and the Payton Jordan Invite May 3 in Palo Alto, California.
“The Payton Jordan meet is the second meet at Stanford, and again is one of the top distance meets in the nation. It's hard to get in, so our entries will depend on how much our distance runners have progressed through the season. Madi will definitely compete in the steeplechase there. We are hoping to take a significant number out there.
"Georgia has a nice mid-level meet that is the perfect tune-up before the A-Sun Championships. We enjoyed competed there last year and it's a pretty easy trip."
Rounding out the track and field season, the teams will battle for conference dominance at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships May 15-16 in Jacksonville Florida. The NCAA I National Championship East Preliminaries will be held May 28-30 in Jacksonville, Florida and the NCAA I National Championship Finals take place on June 10-13 in Eugene, Oregon.